Writers are constantly exposed to a form of rejection. Well, no one likes to be rejected in any area, but we writers need to face the music more often than others. We apply to a lot of writing gigs both online and offline, try to get our stories/novels published, and/ or get our scripts read by producers/agents. And it doesn’t always matter whether we targeted the right market or abided by the guidelines. It doesn’t always make a difference that our writing is good, or the query letters rocked. John Grisham got rejected. J.K. Rowling got rejected. Do I really need to give more examples?
And having been writing full time since late 2009, I can say that I am pretty much at the start of the rejection cycle. Because although I have been writing since I was basically a preteen, I had never sent my writing to anyone besides my friends. I loved being read and I enjoyed a loyal following that loved what story I would come up with next.
But we all grew up and our lives became much more hectic than just going to school, socializing or dating. We were distracted by our career and family plans. That’s when I finally decided that I was not satisfied with writing just for me and my friends. I also wasn’t going to settle for some job I didn’t want because the economy sucked. It was time to follow my. So I dove straight into heavy research. I studied how magazine queries were made, how articles were formatted. I read about how you could sell your screenplays even if you lived a world away from Hollywood.
I read about blogging and writing, and applied what I learned. In addition to running several blogs, I got some decent gigs and continue to have them. I also keep getting rejected. Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Yes, we understand that anyone who uses the phrase “quality insights into writing” probably should hang up his keyboard. That’s us, not Tarhan, but we’re going to keep at this writing thing till we get it – at least – almost right.
We all know that Facebook keeps an enormous amount of information on all of its users.
One of the bits FB collects is how many viewers any given status update has, and there’s even a way to find out. (No, I don’t know how to do it deliberately. I just know that whenever I go to the TVWriter™ FB page – or whatever they call those things now – it tells me how many people saw each post…and then, for purposes of comparison, I assume, it tells me how many people have seen what it says is, “your most popular post.”
For months, that “most popular post” has been something called: “Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters?” Inasmuch as this is one of the most informative and helpful showbiz articles ever to appear on the web and I put it on the Facebook page before TVWriter™ existed in its current equally on-the-money, helpful blog form, it seems to me only fitting that I post it here and now, so it can get even more exposure and help more hopefuls understand the Showbiz Game:
Polone: Who Really Determines the Fates of Aspiring Screenwriters? – by Gavin Polone
…Aspiring and established scriptwriters likely fantasize about a high-powered exec or producer personally discovering their genius after a cold read and calling their agents, demanding a meeting. And those dreamers might be distressed to know just how much of their fate — when it comes to getting a staff writing gig on a TV show, a feature-film assignment, or the possible sale of their spec script — is in the hands of inexperienced low-level executives, assistants, and even interns.
I started as an agent 25 years ago, and I remember sitting in the Monday morning staff meeting where we would talk about all of the scripts we had read over the weekend. A huge pile of scripts in front of you was a red badge of courage, and I felt superior to agents with smaller piles. (Nobody has paper piles any longer, as everyone reads on iPads and Kindles.) Back then, I would routinely plow through up to about 1,200 pages’ worth of sitcom, TV drama, and feature scripts over a weekend. While I might not have read them super-thoroughly, I didn’t skim them either, devoting 45 minutes to an hour to each feature. It was exhausting and life-killing. Today, I read a fraction of the material I used to and none of my peers do much more.
Here’s the short list of what I do read: For a project I’ve sold into development at a film studio or television network, I will read and usually write notes on each new draft; if the changes made to that script were small, I will only read the pages that have been changed…But other than that, scripts submitted to me as possible development projects are given to my development executive and our assistants, who write a synopsis and critique on each…
[I]f you are one of those hoping to break into scriptwriting and are disillusioned that your prospects may rest in the hands of someone just out of school and with little experience, I’d say two things:
(1) Fear not, since, in my experience, truly good writing always finds its way to the decision-makers because the young people who are reading the scripts are more like the audience than those of us they assist. We do listen to these early readers, knowing that in some ways the opinion of an assistant or intern has even more validity than our own.
And (2) No, there isn’t a chance in hell that I’ll read your fucking script, so don’t ask.
The details, many of which I’ve excluded for reasons of space, are what really make this article. So I definitely suggest you read it all. I’d also like to point out, as one of the commenters on the original article does, that while this is the way things are done these days that doesn’t make it the best possible one. It’s simply the reality we live with…for now.
To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself…Anybody can have ideas–the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.
– Letter to Emeline Beach, 10 Feb 1868
Are You Trapped in a “Shadow Career”? The Artist vs The Addict – Jocelyn K. Glei
A few months ago, a colleague of mine told me about meeting a young woman who was “passionate” about writing. He asked her what she had written recently, and she said nothing. In recounting the story to me, he said, “How can you say you’re passionate about something if you’re not doing anything about it?” Good question.
And yet, this is a common affliction. Many of us feel passionate about a particular job or creative project or cause, but we don’t take action on it. Why? Are we addicted to failure? Addicted to distraction? Addicted to money?Novelist and War of Art author Steven Pressfield gets at the crux of this conundrum in his excellent new book, Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work. I was particularly struck by his distinction between “the artist” and “the addict,” wherein the former is living out a productive, creative career, while the latter is caught in an endless loop of aspiration and yearning that never gets backed up with meaningful action.
In short, Pressfield calls bullshit on those of us who are passionate about our ideas, but aren’t acting on them. It’s bracing stuff:
Many artists are addicts, and vice versa. Many are artists in one breath and addicts in another.What’s the difference?The addict is the amateur; the artist is the professional.Both addict and artist are dealing with the same material, which is the pain of being human and the struggle against self-sabotage. But the addict/amateur and the artist/professional deal with these elements in fundamentally different ways…
When we’re living as amateurs, we’re running away from our calling – meaning our work, our destiny, the obligation to become our truest and highest selves.
Addiction becomes a surrogate for our calling. We enact the addiction instead of the calling. Why? Because to follow a calling requires work. It’s hard. It hurts. It demands entering the pain-zone of effort, risk, and exposure.
So we take the amateur route instead. Instead of composing our symphony, we create a “shadow symphony,” of which we ourselves are the orchestra, the composer, and the audience. Our life becomes a shadow drama, a shadow start-up company, a shadow philanthropic venture.
Is this for reals? Or merely a matter of definitions? ‘Cuz we’re really getting nervous here. Don’t you hate when you read something that turns out to be a mirror, showing a version of yourself that gives you the shakes?
When was the last time you listened to over-the-air FM radio? There are so many options on the internet for listening to thousands of different radio stations in many different genres and for downloading a lot of music for free.
We’ve collected some of the best websites for listening to internet radio and for downloading and streaming free music.
There are many sites that offer many radio stations from which you can pick, in all kinds of different genres. Some are completely free and some have both free and paid options.
Pandora allows you to enter the name of a song, artist, or genre you like and the Music Genome Project scans its entire database of music that has been analyzed using up to 450 distinct musical characteristics by a trained music analyst. Songs with interesting musical similarities to the song, artist, or genre you entered are presented to you, allowing you to discover new music that fits in with your musical preferences and moods. Pandora also offers comedy and allows you to create up to 100 unique “stations” that you can refine over time…
Last.fm is a music recommendation service. Sign up and download their software, The Scrobbler, which helps you discover other music based on the type of music you choose to play. The Scrobbler updates your library with music you’ve been listening to on your computer, phone, or music player and tells Last.fm what songs you like most, which ones you play most, how often you play a specific artist, as well as other information that helps them personalized recommendations just for you…
The article also includes Screamer Radio, Playlist.Com, SHOUTcast, Slacker Personal Radio, Live365, SKY.fm and multitudes more, giving so much info that we have only one question: Where do these crazy geek writers find the time?